By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES St Lucia, (CNG Health) – Minister for Health and Wellness (MOH), Mary Isaac, is well-known for stepping out of bounds, as a Senator, walking from the public gallery of parliament, across the chamber and into the lunchroom. When questioned, she said: “I was hungry”. Her recent utterance that, “Saint Lucia may have to consider a permanent ban on alcohol,” is perhaps an infringement on rights and freedoms and the deprivation of the ability to quench one’s thirst – is a guaranteed election defeat at the upcoming general elections.
The selected Senator and minister for health, Mary Isaac, utterances are hitherto ludicrous and illogical. However, that’s a common rendition of the government she serves. And while health minister Isaac, seems in search of her lamb and voice – following vacation leave at the height of COVID-19, her outlandish utterance is cause for concern.
On February 24, 2021, the government of Saint Lucia rolled back the suspension on the sale and disposal of intoxicating liquor. However, upon the lifting of the suspension, no consumption of intoxicating liquor shall be permitted on licensed premises, during the period February 25, 2021, to March 16, 2021, the government-mandated. Therefore, grab and go is now the norm.
Last weekend, patrons of alcoholic beverages and the drinking game shared some indulgence, free from the bondage of COVID-19 restrictions and thoughts of a dictatorship government, heading into general elections. But being willfully blind, Isaac was not aware of packed busses with supporters of the United Workers Party (UWP) – all dressed-up in yellow party outfits on the campaign trail in Soufriere and the South of the Island.
Meantime, bus operators are mandated to transport intervals of 10 passengers are also expected to be commercially viable. Moreover, while still in a curfew and COIVD-19 restriction, only the UWP is allowed to campaign-openly. No sign of COVID wardens and the police to enforce the law.
Nonetheless, according to the pious and sanctimonious health minister, “that [patrons of alcohol and the drinking game] is really unfortunate and it’s painting a very bad picture of us here in Saint Lucia,” Isaac exalted, perhaps not knowing and has not experienced Caribbean life.
“We have reached a point where we may have to consider a total ban on alcohol because it is flooding our health care system and we really cannot afford to have so many people coming into our health care institutions as a result of binging on alcohol and drinking so much alcohol … we have more important things to do with the finances that we put towards health care, so we may have to ban alcohol altogether if the people don’t want to understand themselves,” the selected Senator Isaac said.
Prohibition has not worked since 1920. The prohibition of alcohol created a niche for Mafia’s and well-connected government insiders to trade and profit. The US continues to pioneer the war on cannabis. However, it is instructive to peruse personnel on the board of directors of cannabis companies; likewise the promoters and operators of licence cannabis and farm owners.
In Saint Lucia, the five-bag cannabis entrepreneur is available at every street corner (tax-free, no VAT). There are well-known lawyers who specialize in representing five-bag entrepreneurs when they cross the arms of the law.
The utterances of health minister Isaac, “to consider a permanent ban on alcohol” and what next, perhaps “prohibiting the manufacture of alcohol” similar to the law enacted in the 1920s, albeit crazy Mary is not farfetched – given COVID-19 preferential economics policy of her government; and that of prime minister Allen Chastanet, cosiness with pandemic tourism and the exploits of his belief that “colonialism has a conscience”.
On Tuesday, February 16, 2021, the MOH of health when at length to explain the myths and facts about alcohol use in a press release, has now juxtaposed that “during previous bans on alcohol, there has been a significant drop in the number of crimes and accidents reported.” Any coincidence?
Now that the MOH seeks to improve its response to COVID-19 with the introduction of a new digital tool in the management of this pandemic “758 Care Alert,” a contact tracing app ready for use and available in the Google and Apple Play Stores, perhaps – the next option is the use of the “758 Care Alert” for patrons of alcohol?
The science and technology is the same. The features, if used suitably, can provide an avenue for public health officials and the government of Saint Lucia to get information on the best watering holes on the island.
It is really unfortunate that minister Isaac, says: “People are behaving as though alcohol is a priority – alcohol is something they cannot do without.”
Richard Peterkin wrote on Face Book, March 1, 2021: “ Our problem in Saint Lucia is irresponsible consumption, and it is caused and aggravated by poverty, unemployment inequality and a hedonistic culture. Prohibition won’t work unless you deal with the underlying social factors, after which you probably won’t need a ban. It’s a catch-22, and any attempt by a government to implement a permanent ban on alcohol will probably result in their defeat at the polls, so don’t expect a ban anytime soon.”